Gateway to the Classics: The Tale of Cuffy Bear by Arthur Scott Bailey
The Tale of Cuffy Bear by  Arthur Scott Bailey

Cuffy and the Maple‑Sugar

A NOTHER day had come and all the morning long Cuffy Bear and his sister Silkie played and played as hard as they could. They played that they were making maple-sugar. And they pretended to hang buckets on all the trees near Mr. Bear's house. There were no maple trees about Cuffy's home—only pine and hemlock and spruce—but if you are just pretending  to make maple-sugar any sort of tree will do.

While they were playing Cuffy kept wishing for some realmaple-sugar. After all, the little cakes of snow that he and Silkie made and calledmaple-sugar seemed very tasteless, no matter how much Cuffy pretended. And later, when Silkie was taking her nap, and Cuffy had no one to play with, he became so angry with the make-believe sugar that he struck the little pats of snow as hard as he could and spoiled them. And then, after one look toward the door of his father's house—to make sure that his mother did not see him—Cuffy started on a trot down the mountainside.

What do you suppose he was going to do?

To tell the truth, Cuffy himself did not quite know. When he came to the tree that he had found the day before he stopped and drank some of the sap once more; and he tried to imagine how sugar would taste a hundred times sweeter.  Then Cuffy went on down the mountainside.

At last he spied a little house in a clearing. From its chimney a stream of smoke rose, and as Cuffy peeped from behind a tree he saw a man come out and pick up an armful of wood from the woodpile nearby. While Cuffy watched, the man carried in several loads. Soon the smoke began fairly to pour out of the chimney; and then the man came out once more, picked up an axe near the woodpile, and started off toward the other side of the clearing.

Cuffy was trembling with excitement. The wind blew right in his face and brought to him two odors that were quite different. One was the man-scent, which Cuffy did not like at all, and which made his legs want to run away. The other smell was most delightfully sweet. And it made his nose want to go forward.

Which do you think won—Cuffy's nose or his legs? . . . Yes! His nose won! Pretty soon Cuffy slipped from behind the tree and scampered as fast as he could run to the door of the sugar-house—for that was what he had found. He stuck his head inside and oh, joy! there was no one there.

Just inside the door stood a tub full of something brown. One sniff told Cuffy that it was maple-sugar and he began to gulp great mouthfuls of it. Yes! his father was right. It certainly was a hundred times sweeter than the sap.

In the middle of the room was a big pan which gave off clouds of steam. Cuffy wanted to see it. And with his mouth full of sugar he walked up to the pan and looked into it. He saw a golden liquid, and Cuffy felt that he simply must taste that too. So he dipped both his front paws right into the bubbling syrup.

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